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COURT CLEARS WAY FOR SANDY TO JOIN S.L. METRO WATER DISTRICT

When Sandy citizens turn on their kitchen faucet for a glass of water, or flip on lawn sprinklers, they probably won't realize their city received court approval Friday to remove itself from the Salt Lake County Water Conservancy District.

Judge Timothy R. Hansen's approval of the move ends Sandy's three-year negotiations, initiated when former Sandy Mayor Steve Newton attempted to pull out of the Conservancy District and annex with Salt Lake City's Metropolitan Water District to bring better water service to residents. And Newton, along with city officials, is glad."It's been an extremely painful period," Newton said. "There was a lot of name calling that went on early on, but . . . I could see the benefits for my city, and that's why we did it."

"We're absolutely ecstatic about the decision," said Byron Jorgenson, Sandy's chief administrative officer. "This is probably the single most important decision that's been made in the history of this city to secure a long-term water source for our residents."

The approval integrates numerous water systems and affects 65 percent of Utah residents, including Sandy residents.

The benefits are:

-More water. Wasted water that once flowed down Little Cottonwood Creek - away from Sandy and into the Jordan River and Great Salt Lake - can be treated at Metro's Cottonwood treatment plant, thus better utilizing water for Sandy citizens, especially in the city's northeast section.

-Money saved. Without the agreement, water would have to be pumped to the elevated areas of Sandy by the Conservancy District, which is more expensive than receiving water through Metro's gravity flow.

"It costs a lot of money to pump water uphill," said Robert L. Siegel, vice president of an engineering firm involved in project.

Water service from Metro maintains the lowest cost, even though Sandy citizens will find an 8.5 percent boost in their water bill to pay for outstanding bonds tied with the Conservancy District, officials say.

The courts allowed Sandy to leave the Conservancy District as long as the city continues to buy county water, as well as pay about $4.5 million in property taxes for district bonds.

"Sandy (officials) guaranteed the city would buy a minimum amount of water every year from the Conservancy until the bonds are paid," by the year 2001, Riley said.

-Larger water treatment capacity. Metro will unload their Cottonwood treatment plant and treat water at Parleys treatment plant - which Sandy city has agreed to enlarge at an estimated cost of $8.7 million. This allows Sandy to use the open space at the Cottonwood plant to treat their water.

"In return, Sandy will gain 25 million gallons a day worth of treatment in Metropolitan's Cottonwood treatment plant," Riley said. "Until this plan was put into effect, there were no physical means in which it could be treated."

Sandy residents aren't the only ones who benefit. The Conservancy District, Metropolitan District and the public utilities directors of Sandy and Salt Lake City have agreed on a "conjunctive management" plan to better serve Salt Lake Valley users.

The water systems will now work in cooperation in coordinating plans, identifying boundaries, maximizing the use of facilities and planning for future developments in delivering water to the Salt Lake Valley, said Edward Clyde, a Salt Lake attorney who was appointed by the governor to act as mediator.

"It's a broad agreement on the part of these major water systems to cooperate. By doing things jointly, we ought to be able to render cheaper services," Clyde said.